09:40 GMT +308 December 2019
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    Soft Diplomacy: India Begins A New Game in Indian Ocean By Training The Maldives Cricket Team

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian side has already trained Maldivian cricket coaches. The move is part of a plan to deepen relations with the Maldives which have previously had strong links with China.

    The Indian government has announced that groups of men and women from the Maldives are visiting the southern city of Chennai to receive intensive cricket training.

    The Indian embassy in Male said that India is “looking forward to working with the Cricket Board of Maldives."

    “A week-long level training course for Maldivian coaches concluded on 14 November. As a next step, Board of Control for Cricket in India umpire coaches led by Shavir Tarapore will conduct level-2 umpiring courses for 23 local umpires from 19-26 November,” the Indian embassy in Male stated in an official statement.

    The cricket diplomacy with the Maldives started in March this year when Male requested India's help to build a cricket stadium on the island.

    Sensing the opportunity to use its soft diplomacy to turn around the poor bilateral relations during the Abdulla Yameen government, India accepted the request and announced the initiative during a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in June.

    The stadium- building with the help of line of credit extended by New Delhi- is to take place on Hulhumale, an island south of North Male atoll.

    China had previously built the “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” which connects Hulhumale with the capital Male.

    Spread over nearly 1,200 islands spanning more than 90,000 sq. km, the Maldives has become one of major areas where India and China are vying for influence. China has already invested millions of dollars in the islands under its Belt and Road Initiatives.



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